Category Archives: Collectables

Struggling for Words

Oh dear, what should I talk about?

Julia has put an end to talk of funerals for the moment. She thinks it’s morbid.

She’s also put an end to posts about how she bosses me around. That is tricky, because if I do what she tells me I sort of prove my point. And if I don’t do what she says I might have to develop early-rising habits and cook my own breakfast.

I also don’t want to talk about work too much, as I admit that many people will find it less than fascinating. Not everyone is blessed with my capacity for loving ancient rubbish.

Nor will everyone be fascinated to hear how we reset the credit card machine after it stopped working.

Nor will the news that we’ve increased the stock of our on-line shop by 10% this week be greeted with much more than the thought of raising an eyebrow.

We have been shown some interesting things this week – including a George Medal that required a new ribbon, a medieval lead token someone found whilst digging the garden and a box of World War Two medals which included King Haakon VII’s Freedom Medal. I would have liked to have known the story behind the last one, but they didn’t even know which member of the family they had belonged to. Needless to say, as soon as I showed interest they decided to keep them.

The big news is that the shillings are all done. On Monday they will be delivered and, hopefully, out of my life forever. The same goes for the 1,000 crowns we’re also sending. However, don’t worry, we’ve already bought more. It seems like everyone who comes in has cupro-nickel crowns.

Shillings of Elizabeth II - English and Scottish varieties

Shillings of Elizabeth II – English and Scottish varieties

I have some. I bought them in 1968 after reading about how they would be a good investment. My Mum got them from the bank for me – four at face value of five shillings each. (This was before we went decimal and they became worth 25 pence). They are still worth that. Allowing for inflation this is a bit of a disaster.

Things could be, as I often say, worse. There’s a website you can use for selling things and they offer 19 pence each. I won’t send you a link as I don’t want to encourage them.

There would be more photographs but for the last few days I’ve been having trouble with my media contents – scroll down a few weeks looking for a suitable library shot and the whole thing freezes, making me shut down to get going again.

Looks like I may have to email WordPress.

It rained this afternoon. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign that summer is over.

We also had to evict another wasp queen. That is two in the last three days. Opinion in the shop is divided between gently showing them the door and killing the. At the moment I’m with Eddie on gently showing them the door. However, I’m wondering if I might change my mind shortly as the suspicion of a wasp invasion builds up.

As lives go, this is not cutting edge…

 

Auctioneers, Bureaucracy and Modern Life

I’m gearing up for some serious collecting, and part of his involves getting ready to bid at auction.

Last week I registered with one I’ve never dealt with before, sent in a couple of bids and am now waiting to see if I’ve been successful. If I am the winning bidder I will pay by debit card and they will send me the goods. It’s old-fashioned. It’s simple. And it’s easy to stay calm during the process, apart from a low level of excitement about the hunt.

This week I sent off a so-called registration form for another auction. I’ve dealt with them before so I listed them as a reference. I also listed one of their trade customers as a reference. You’d have thought that would be sufficient, but it seems not. That’s why I’m in low-level rant mode.

To safeguard them from fraud, and because they say I’m a new customer, I have to provide a copy of my photo ID.

That’s a National ID card (which I don’t have), a passport (which I don’t have) or a photo driving licence. Now, I do have one of those, though in theory there’s no reason why I should have one. Julia still has her green non-photo licence, and somewhere in a drawer, so do I. We moved here 30 years ago when they were the only licences available and we’ve had no legal reason to change them.

I had to change mine simply because it’s impossible to live without photo ID these days. I even needed photo ID to prove my mother’s will.

No, I don’t know why either.

We’ve dealt with the same solicitor for years, they have had, and used, my home address for years, and they have met me face to face. Suddenly we can’t do anything without me showing photo ID.

Anyway, back to auctions. I’m not a new customer. I’ve told them I’m not a new customer. I provided a reference, and I won’t be able to defraud them because they won’t part with the goods until they have payment and…

Somehow I can’t do anything without providing photo ID.

I can’t help feeling that it’s just another example of the stupidity of modern life. My photo ID doesn’t reduce the chance of fraud to the auctioneer. But it does make life more annoying for me, and, by having a photo of my driving licence floating around, it does increase my risk of being the victim of fraud.

I know this because when Cotton Traders had their system hacked we had several attempts at fraudulent transactions made on our cards.

 

 

An Ordinary Life

Yesterday started, as usual, with shillings. We’ve probably spoken about shillings enough. I’ve certainly sorted enough.

I then moved on to sorting out four boxes of  secondhand office supplies we’ve recently inherited from the estate of a local dealer. Although I like stationery, I don’t necessarily like it when it’s mixed up in a box. What with scissors, loose staples and a loose craft knife it was not a happy episode.

Finally I was able to get to the computer in the back office and start putting medallions on eBay. We have a large supply of medallions. I refer to them as “modern”, though to many people the 1970s and 80s are “before I was born”.

I’ve put 41 on in two days and sold 14 already.

Fortunately I am not an ambitious man.

Historical Note: When someone reads my blog 50 years from now to see what ordinary people were thinking about Syria in the run up to Armageddon they are going to have to conclude “not much”.

I’m not sure why we are involved. I’m not sure why the Russians are involved. And I’m not going to waste time worrying about it because there’s nothing I can do to change things.

I’m now going to make corned beef hash for tea.

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Shillings, always Shillings…

We had fourteen parcels to pack and post this morning, which we managed in reasonable time. I was happily photographing and loading medallions on eBay when the boss arrived and hobbled through the door.

He has a bad back and stick that is too short for him – a recipe for disaster, as I know to my cost.

Then we had cake.

After that the other two went home, one to a pre-planned afternoon off and the other to an afternoon of stretching out with painkillers and hot water bottles.

That left me alone in charge of the shop. Just me and several thousand shillings.

Two hours later there were still several thousand shillings, but they were arranged differently.

Shillings of Elizabeth II - English and Scottish varieties

Shillings of Elizabeth II – English and Scottish varieties

When I write the chapter called My Working  Life – The Shilling Years for my autobiography it’s going to need some work. I may have to tell the story of how Kylie Minogue came in to buy Australian coins for her father’s collection.

She spent several hours picking over our fine stock of antipodean numismatic gems before noting the time and wondering if she had time to stay.

I should be so lucky

 

Disclaimer: Shillings, always Shillings… is a lazily written work of fiction and the author would be glad not to be sued by Miss Minogue, who has never actually been to the shop. Though she would be welcome to pop in if she’s ever passing.

Other pop stars are available, though their songs probably wouldn’t have fitted so well and, frankly, if S Club Seven, Blue or Little Mix came to the shop I probably wouldn’t recognise them.

 

 

 

The Psychology of Collecting

For years I’ve observed the link between collecting and mental illness. I’ve seen it in others and I’ve seen it in myself. I’ve also seen hoarding, excessive shopping, depression and bipolar disorder, though I’m glad to say that, apart from the hoarding, this has been from a distance.

I will confess now, that the house is full of junk and it is a case of hoarding rather than collecting. The old excuse – that it’s stock – no longer applies because I don’t have a shop. Even when I did have a shop I could never part with the rubbish. As a result, when I moved from the shop I moved carfuls of worthless junk that now just clutter the house. That’s how you know you’ve passed from “collecting” to “hoarding”, or from sanity to something that needs tackling.

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Brick from Watnall Pit Brickyard

Julia, having found out that there were a lot of local brickyards, including those run by the National Coal Board, has started a collection of bricks. So far this one is the entire collection. We have a photograph of another in a post on Rufford Abbey, which was where we discovered that there were such things. There is, inevitably, a website on the subject. This is a good example of what can actually be done by a collector with a passion for his subject.

One of the things I found when doing the research for this post, is that Freud considered that hoarding to be a result of our feeling of loss of control we experience when we flush the toilet. I’ve never felt the urge to retain anything I’ve put down the toilet. Fortunately I’ve never known anyone who has, and nobody has ever brought such a collection into the shop. Dr Gillian McKeith might have an archive collection, but that’s work, not a hobby, so is probably acceptable.

I was struggling for vocabulary for a moment, but after reading the Gillian McKeith article I can now use the word stool. Normally I only use it when referring to a small backless seat, but needs must. None of the other words I know are really suitable, though the word stool is not as clear as it could be.

If I refer to not being offered a stool collection during my days in the antiques trade I lack clarity as, for all you know, I might have been in the furniture trade. I suppose, with modern technology such as freeze drying and vacuum packing, it is only a matter of time before the first stool collection hits the market. Or the fan.

It seems that many people collect things. Up to 70% of children collect things, though by the time people are in their 20’s only 23% of people collect things, falling to 12-15% of people in their 60’s. These things don’t have to be valuable, they just need to be something that interests the collector.

This is part of my collection of Post Box photos. The box is a double aperture Type C with the post-1980 “Royal Mail” logo. Oh yes, collections can be dull and worthless…

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Post box at Bakewell

It’s clear from this that the people I would to as collectors are different from the people that psychologists would refer to as collectors. They see people who accumulate things as being collectors where I tend to think of collectors as people who collect to a plan. Even if that plan is to amass a pile of stuff as cheaply as possible.

As for hoarders, these are collectors who have let things get out of control. Between 2% and 5% of adults meet the criteria for being hoarders.

The lack of clarity in terminology is only one of the complications you run into. The mind of the collector is another cause of confusion.

There was a collector in Nottingham who used to enter all his purchases in a diary. This was so that he could prove to his wife that he was sticking to a strict budget. He did this by writing down a cost that was 10% of the true cost. Even at that level, his wife thought he was spending too much on his hobby.

It all went well until he died. His wife, armed with the book, then marched into the dealer where the husband had made most of his purchases. After lecturing him on the evils of him helping her husband waste his time and money she pointed to the book and demanding that he repaid her all the money her husband had wasted. She wanted the full purchase price back, she declared, and wouldn’t take a penny less.

So he paid her.

It’s a tricky moral point. He paid her what she wanted and she went away happy. If she’d merely asked how much he would give her he’d have paid more.

On another occasion a widow called me in to look at a collection. It didn’t go well and, after travelling fifty miles to do so, I fell off the badly made loft ladder leading up to the hobby room in the roof. It got worse after that, but I won’t bore you with the details, I’ll just leave you with the comedic picture of me stuck halfway through a roof hatch as she struggled to shove the ladder back under my flailing feet.

 

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Notts and Derby sweetheart brooch

And, of course, no discussion of collecting would be complete without a picture of a sweetheart brooch. It appears to be as big as a Double Aperture Type C pillar box, but is actually quite a lot smaller.

I have yet to master photography as a documentary medium.

Thoughts on Modern Coins

It wasn’t the most interesting of days.

Rain, repetitiveness and a limited supply of customers all conspired to make it a bland sort of day.

We have some new stock, but they are mainly modern coins, and I think you know my view on this sort of thing. I just had a look at the Royal Mint website, to post a link and this is what I found. A thousand years of minting history, which has brought us some of the most beautiful coins in the world (though this is, of course, a matter of taste) is now bringing us the Game of Thrones series.

If the decay of the modern world was on trial, and I was prosecuting, I would now rest my case.

I applaud the fact that people are now searching through their change looking for coins to collect, and it’s even better that they are coming into the shop to fill gaps in their collections. But look at what they are being offered.

There are other organisations that produce coins, and put marketing ahead of value and aesthetics, but they aren’t grinding a thousand years of history under the heel of commercialism. That, and the fear of legal action, means that I will just mention the Royal Mint.

I don’t even mind about the commercialism, it’s the poor standards of design and trivial nature of many of the subjects that really get to me. As a result, I can’t even get a decent picture to illustrate the post, so please accept my apologies for the poor quality photos.

In which a joke of questionable taste is told, coins are sorted and I am forced out of the way by a rude woman in the supermarket.

I decided to employ a sub-heading as I couldn’t convey it all in the title. (Added later: then I forgot to write a title! Senior Moment Alert!)

Last week, having failed the blood test, I received a panicky phone call from the anti-coagulation service. They do take things a bit seriously at times. All I did was forget a couple of pills and drift off target a bit – it’s not like I’m hovering at Death’s door. I’m not even at Death’s garden gate. In fact, I’m feeling quite perky.

As I get older I really ought to stop saying things like that, as I’m going to look pretty stupid if I drop dead tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure the anti-coagulation is working as I bled quite a bit when they pulled the needle out.

We had a visitor in the shop today, which was good as I hadn’t seen him for about ten years. He used to be a coin dealer, but he’s taken up a new career since then and now takes secular funeral services. He also told us one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately I can’t repeat it.

It wasn’t rude and it didn’t feature bad language but it was, shall we say, in questionable taste, and looked at something from an unusual angle.

I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my seat.

Then I carried on sorting. Stamps, shillings and crowns. Ah, the glamour!

Finally, as you may have guessed from the first paragraph, I went shopping. It all went relatively well until I got to the checkout. The manned checkouts were all crammed, so I decided to use the self-service. They, it seemed, had been giving trouble all day, and the one I used queried six of my nine articles, necessitating the intervention of a staff member each time.

When all was done I started to leave the shop. As I got to the doorway a woman came up behind me and pushed past, which isn’t good when you’re using a stick for balance. She then made someone else swerve to avoid her then walked directly towards someone coming into the shop and made them stop the let her past.

She wasn’t being pursued, she was just very rude, arrogant and inconsiderate.

All this rush meant that she got to her car, started the engine and engaged reverse gear ready to escape.

Meanwhile, I put a bit of a spurt on.

And once I was behind her car, as she waited impatiently to reverse out, I walked behind her…very…very…slowly.

I don’t usually manage to get my own back, but today everything just fell right. And it felt good.